Andrew Lang, son of former cabinet minister Otto Lang, defeated retired businessman Edward Seysmith for the Toronto-Danforth Liberal nomination on Wednesday night and immediately set his sights on his main competition, federal NDP leader Jack Layton.
“I am looking forward to the opportunity not only to take on Jack Layton but to take him down,” Lang said.
The nomination contest took place April 16 at St. Joseph’s Parish Hall, 65 Curzon St., with Lang winning the majority of the 107 votes cast.
Both Lang and Seysmith stressed the need to re-energize the riding membership after two election losses to Layton and the NDP in 2004 and 2006.
Toronto-Danforth had been a Liberal stronghold for 16 years represented by former MP Dennis Mills who lost to Layton in 2004.
Despite the challenge of unseating a party leader, Lang says he feels optimistic about his chances.
He says he will work hard to re-energize the Liberal brand in Toronto-Danforth and to hold Layton’s feet to the fire over his record as MP, including his role in bringing down Paul Martin’s minority government in 2006.
“If you’re mad about anything Stephen Harper is doing than you have Jack Layton to thank for that. It was Jack Layton’s lend-us-your-vote campaign last time that put the Harper conservatives in power.” Lang said.
“If he hadn’t done that we would have a national daycare strategy in place, we’d have the Kelowna Accord which had already been ratified by the provinces and we’d have the funding that the Martin government set aside for cities.”
Although Seysmith lost the nomination he vowed to support Lang and hopes voters in Toronto-Danforth will vote Liberal in the next election.
“This is the first step to get people excited about being Liberals again,” Seysmith said. “Obviously it’s going to require funding and really good organization and we if we can bring all of those elements together than I don’t think that there’s any reason that we couldn’t beat Jack Layton.”
Mills attended the nomination meeting and supported Lang’s candidacy. In what became a common theme for the evening and an early hint at Liberal campaign strategy, Mills accused Layton of putting his own career ahead of the concerns of his constituents.
“Jack Layton has treated this riding like a bus stop. He has abused this riding. He doesn’t live here, he’s rarely here,” Mills said.
“That’s not what he said he was going to do when he campaigned against me. Since 2004 he has not been a champion of the people of Toronto-Danforth. He has been focused on himself and I would say that he’s going to get one hell of a surprise.”